Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure at the doctor’s, but I think it is because I’m nervous. When I am relaxed at home, I average 136/72 BP. Can you recommend something I can take before I go to the doctor that would help me relax?
A: The problem with your request is that if you take something to relax, you will be adversely affecting your true condition as well. I suggest you consult with your physician to take BP measurements before and after the visit and average these out. Also, have your physician perform a measurement using a larger cuff; with a larger arm, the regular cuff may produce a false elevated reading. Even at rest, your systolic (136) pressure seems elevated. Do a 10-minute calming meditation or try some breathing exercises as you wait for the physician.